DIY | How to upcycle and reupholster a chair

I have recently moved into my first home, and there has been a lot of work to be done to the house. Apart from painting and decorating every room we needed all new furniture including dining room chairs, but instead of just buying some I thought I would try something new and attempt to up-cycle and reupholster my own. 

 I had never done it before so made a few mistakes along the way but feel they turned out really well. 

If you fancy giving it a go too, here’s how I did it…

I bought these matching chairs from the YMCA charity shop in Clitheroe for £15 for two, there where loads in there all different shapes and sizes but I loved how grand and sturdy these were. 

After I got them home I gave them a wash down with some water and sugar soup, then removed the seat. They were too worn underneath to reuse, so I thought I would just make my own instead. 

I then used a coarse sand paper to sand down the bare frame of the chair removing the top varnish layer. 

This took longer than I expected and my arm certainly ached afterwards but it was totally worth it. Sanding down allows the paint to lay better and removes most of the original colour. 

My first mistake came with the paint choice. We chose Farrow & Ball Estate Emulsion to match the paint colour on our walls however I found this just sank into the wood as it was made for walls. Switching to the Estate Eggshell which is specially made for woodwork made a big difference. This paint didn’t sink in a gave a lovely matt finish. Obviously really but it’s a lesson learnt.

After a couple of coats of paint the frame was done and it was time to reupholster the seat.

As I was starting from scratch I measured the inner shape of the seat and drew up a template for the shape. 


I bought some 2 inch thick foam from a mill shop near me who cut to my template. This was around £8 for two pieces of foam. 

The chip board was cut to size for me at B&Q at the bargain price of £2.60 for two pieces. 

 I chose a chip board that was advertised for furniture purposes and roughly about 1 inch thick.

My chosen fabric was an off cut from a friend’s curtains my mum made recently, I love this rustic tartan check and the colours are beautifully autumnal.

I started by folding the fabric over the foam and pulling tight to the underside on the chip board.

I then flipped the seat over to check the positioning was right and the fabric was spread tight over the foam. Once I made a few tweaks and was happy with the front, I turned it over to the underside again and started stapling the fabric to the chip board using a staple gun.

This stage was a little fiddly and took a few go’s to get right, so if you are trying it I would recommend to have some dress making pins handy to stop the fabric slipping.

 I trimmed some spare pieces and then secured the rest with a second row of staples.

To make sure the staples would stay in I gently hammered them at the end too.

And the chair is done!

I fitted the board into the chair frame tested it out! 

Thumbs up for comfort if I do say so myself!

it cost me about £25 to up-cycle these two chairs and seat including
buying the chairs. I was lucky to be given spare fabric and have some
left over paint from decorating the house. However the outcome is better
than anything I could buy. I have learnt a new skill, made something that no-one else will have and given new life to old furniture!

It might have been a lot of effort but it is so worth it!

 I just love them! 

Follow me on Instagram to see the reclaimed wood bench we bought from Etsy to go with my handmade chairs!

What do you think? Have you ever had a go at upcycling old furniture?

Thanks for reading,




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